Mississippi State announces in-person ceremonies for spring commencement April 29, 30

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State is announcing plans for in-person spring commencement exercises to be held on the Starkville and Meridian campuses.

The Starkville campus will have four ceremonies—two each on April 29 and 30 in Humphrey Coliseum. MSU-Meridian will celebrate commencement on May 3 at the MSU Riley Center. Multiple viewing options will be available for those who wish to watch these events remotely.

MSU is requiring all attendees—including graduates, guests and university employees—to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth. Sanitizing stations will be available, and special seating and distancing protocols will be in place.

Attendance on April 29 and 30 in Starkville will be limited to four guests per graduate, and the Athletic Ticket Office will provide electronic ticketing for contactless entry. Tickets will be distributed in early April.

Each ceremony at Humphrey Coliseum will honor 600-750 graduates and have a guest capacity of approximately 3,000 in the facility which, under normal conditions, seats more than 10,000. Constant custodial sanitation will take place before, during and after all ceremonies with intense focus on cleaning restrooms, entryways and other high-touch areas.

Starkville campus ceremony times include:


—8:30 a.m. (Doors open at 7 a.m.): College of Arts and Sciences (undergraduates only)

—1:30 p.m. (Doors open at noon): College of Education and College of Business (undergraduates only); and ACCESS Program


—8:30 a.m. (Doors open at 7 a.m.): All graduate students (master’s, doctoral, specialist); College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

—1:30 p.m. (Doors open at noon): Bagley College of Engineering; College of Architecture, Art and Design; College of Veterinary Medicine; College of Forest Resources; Academic Affairs (undergraduates only for all)

Meridian campus commencement at the MSU Riley Center will be held May 3. MSU-Meridian information can be found at meridian.msstate.edu.

Portrait of MSU President Mark E. Keenum
MSU President Mark E. Keenum (Photo by Russ Houston)

MSU President Mark E. Keenum will give the Starkville commencement address. An MSU graduate with degrees in agricultural economics, Keenum is in his 13th year of tenure. During his presidency, the Corinth native has guided the university to unprecedented heights with an unwavering focus on preparing students for success in a rapidly changing world and emphasizing the important values of integrity, hard work and respect. His interest in international food security has strengthened the university’s contributions to global economic sustainability, and he has led MSU to record growth in enrollment, capital improvements and fundraising.

“Graduation is a meaningful time for our students and university. Despite the ongoing pandemic necessitating some adjustments to our traditional ceremony, I am looking forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our outstanding graduates with them and their families,” Keenum said.

Studio portrait of MSU civil engineering alumnus Richard A. Rula
Richard A. Rula (Submitted photo)

MSU alumnus Richard A. Rula also will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during Starkville’s 1:30 p.m. April 30 ceremony for lifetime achievements and longtime major support of university programs. Rula, who earned a 1970 civil engineering degree from MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering, currently serves as president of Richland-based Hemphill Construction Company, one of the Southeast’s leading multi-faceted contractors. He also has served on the boards of the MSU Foundation and the Bulldog Club, among others.

Rula was recognized as one of the Bagley college’s Distinguished Engineering Fellows in 2006 and its Alumnus of the Year in 2017. In 2019, he was recognized as the university’s National Alumnus of the Year. Rula and his wife Sherry provided the lead gift for MSU’s new Engineering and Science Complex, which is nearing completion and will be named in his honor. They also have endowed the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, which will be officially named the Richard A. Rula School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The Rulas’ generous support also has had a major impact on the MSU student-athlete experience. They provided the lead gift for the Rula Tennis Pavilion, the new indoor complex for MSU men’s and women’s tennis teams, and also have supported the Mize Pavilion’s courts for MSU men’s and women’s basketball.

University leaders planning for the ceremonies said many elements of past graduations will be the same this spring; however, ongoing guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic are requiring several adjustments to the conventional program. An entrance processional for graduates will not be included, but all graduates will walk across the stage as they are announced and congratulated. Graduates will leave in successive order after being recognized instead of returning to their seats. Likewise, guests should leave after their graduate is recognized.

All graduates, guests and employees are expected to conduct self-screening prior to leaving home. Per MSU guidelines, this includes an “at-home” temperature check and review of potential COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pains, sore throat, and a new loss of taste or smell. Anyone with any of these symptoms or a fever of greater than 100.4 degrees should stay home.

Complete graduation details, as they become available, will be posted online at www.registrar.msstate.edu/students/graduation, as well as emailed directly to graduates, among other communications.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.